Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Good Guy

The Good Guy
© 2007 Dean Koontz
400 pages

"Good guys finish last, Tim."
"Maybe not if they stay in the race."

Tim Carrier's just an honest working man who enjoys relaxing at a local bar in the evenings, exchanging insults with his friend the barkeep and drawing eccentric strangers into interesting conversations. Only...the last conversation ended with him being given an envelope containing $10,000 and instructions that he would receive the rest once the woman was dead.  Tim's been mistaken for a hitman.

Being mistaken for an assassin is odd enough, but then the actual hitman takes for Tim for his new boss. Thinking quickly,  Tim tells the man that his services are no longer required: the job is off, but he'll still be paid. The ruse works long enough for Tim to escape and find the woman whose life hangs in the balance. Soon both he and she are on the run from a talented killer with vast resources.

A friend of mine has persistently recommended Dean Koontz,  and after reading The Good Guy I can understand why. Koontz is an effective horror writer: alternating chapters tell the story from the vantage point of both Tim and the hitman, who is one of the most disturbing characters I've ever encountered.  He's a genuine sociopath, and while in his head Koontz uses small details to creep the reader out. The flowers that Tim notes for their smell are seen and dismissed by Krait reflexively as not being useful; they're nontoxic.  The plot advances quickly, and Koontz's writing constantly hits the reader -- his descriptive prose and dialogue are evocative, and every paragraph made putting the book down more difficult. I read it in one sitting, not being able to resist the feeling of "Just one more chapter..." until well after midnight, when the story ended for these characters who had so ensnared my attention.

Koontz is a compelling author, and will remain of interest for future reads -- though, like King, I wouldn't be surprised if I avoided him given the creepiness factor. Suitable reading as we approach Halloween, though.

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